TIP brought together global experts on Indigenous issues for a day-long review workshop for its international program for Indigenous Youth Fellowships in Rome. The aim of the fellowship program is to empower youths and adolescent girls to manage risks by linking indigenous food systems with agrobiodiversity, nutrition sensitive production and consumption, climate adaptation and appropriate value chains. The fellowship’s objectives align with the TIP vision of empowering indigenous communities to reaffirm the identity, pleasure and wellbeing they derive from their local food systems, which, when authentically and respectfully practiced, protect the local environment, defend their lands and territories, enhance livelihood opportunities and help in climate change adaptations.
Hosted by Bioversity International and supported by The Christensen Fund of the United States the Fellowship Programme was initiated and carried out from 20 August to 20 October 2017. Four indigenous youths from North East India, Northern Thailand and Ethiopia were recruited as Indigenous Fellows for a three months period. During this period, they demonstrated to the Rome-based professionals, from their personal experiences, why agrobiodiversity and their agroecology practices make sense to their respective community members and their local food systems. Further to this were intensive learning sessions at Bioversity International and other Rome-based Agencies focusing on the importance of building the capacities of local communities to assess, document and manage stress-related traditional varieties.
The day long retreat was informal, but deeply rooted in process development and sharing of experiences of the 2017 Fellows and also from the experts working with their own communities. Facilitated by Dr. Timmi Tillman with the VIIP process of reflection and personality stimulation there were discussions on lessons learned and opportunities opened for incorporation in the future TIP Fellowship Programs. As Phrang Roy, Coordinator, TIP oriented the session he shared the need for a larger vision to create an alliance of indigenous youth to promote their strengths and address common issues which need resolution. This would happen by knowledge exchange and the development of strong bonding between the Fellows where each supports the other. In this scenario the curriculum creation, the scope of trainings, the durations and a continuous evolution of their careers was seen essential. This then must go back to their local communities where they also train their peers and the next generation of change makers. A strong emphasis on learning through observation and practice was also seen where exploration methodologies and documentation, entrepreneurship development and networking would be seen as empowerment tools. At all times the balance between traditional and contemporary knowledge systems was seen as of equal weightage. Over all there was seen a big demand for capacity building but a long term sustainable plan of action including funding was seen as major uphill tasks for the proposed programming as it involved a lot of resource mobilisation across the indigenous continents with diversity in culture, language (patterns of education) and of course distances.
The Participants Included
A. Kyrham Nongkynrih (India)
Francisco Rosado May (Mexico)
Timmi Tillman (Germany)
Pius Ranee (2017 Fellow, North East India)
Nutdanai Trakansuphakon (2017 Fellow, Northern Thailand)
Merrysha Nongrum (North East India)
Shaiphar Nongrum (Farmer, Teacher, North East India)
Robert Leo (Keystone Foundation, South India)
Ajay Nayak (Communications Consultant, Western India)
Morse Flores (UNOHCHR Fellowship Programme, The Philippines)
Arnold Blackstar, Director of the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) Trust Fund/Member of the Canada World Youth Advisory Council
Sandra Creamer, (Australian Indigenous Community, Australia)
Toby Hodgkin (Coordinator of the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research)
Per Rudebjer (Capacity Building Specialist)
Gennifer Meldrum (Research Assistant, IFAD-EU NUS Project, Bioversity)
Annelie Bernhart (Research Assistant, the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research, Bioversity)
Gaia Lochetti (Research Fellow, BVI-A2 Local Agri-food systems, Bioversity)
Eliot Gee (Research Fellow, BVI A2, Bioversity)
Nazzareno Todini (Consultant for Grant Administration Unit, Bioversity)